ADSactly Awareness - Street Sold Food Might Be Harming You
Street Sold Food Might Be Harming You
A lot of times we are too busy, or are in a hurry to leave our homes, so we opt for food or meals sold on the street. Sometimes, we may be travelling to another town with a different culture, and we are attracted by the nice aroma of enticing street food. I know this happens a lot in Nigeria and in some other countries. Sometimes, the sold food may not be home-made meals, it could be locally made snacks. Some people like to patronize certain vendors for native meals and snacks however, we overlook a lot of possibilities while doing this.
It is sad enough that some packaged and industry-processed meals and food substances can harm us but do we realize that some street vended foods can harm us?
It is possible that some of us can vouch for certain restaurants, some of us are certain about their hygiene. We may even know some of these vendors personally. We may have been eating from some vendors for years but, have we considered the location at which the vendor is selling the food, and its poor handling which can lead to transfer of pathogens(microbes) from the vendor or others around or from the environment into the food?
Have we thought about the fact that water, vegetable,and spice used in preparing food such can easily be contaminated? What about chemicals from detergents or liquid wash used to clean utensils and equipment? Have you ever seen when a vendor is in a hurry to sell food? Everything has to be done fast. Did you know that chemical or physical contaminants can enter into the food,and microbial contamination from water,cloth and food handler can occur?
What about when food is hawked, improper storage,and temperatures of food during hawking might lead to heat-stable enterotoxins produced by pathogens.
This is not to scare anyone.This is just an awareness concerning some of the dangers of street sold food. We are prone to food borne diseases such as food poisoning, diarrhea, cholera,and typhoid fever if we constantly consume food prepared on the street. My brother was rushed to the hospital, one midnight, after he had consumed locally made food from a street vendor during the day. He had terrible stomach pain and was placed on admission in the hospital.
HOW STREET FOOD GET CONTAMINATED
In China,street food caused 691 food poisoning outbreaks and 49 deathsfor years in Shangdong Province (China)
Water is one of the most important raw materials in many street food, therefore if a vendor uses contaminated water, this can create a health risk to the public. Often,the hygiene of water used by vendors can not be fully ascertained, yet it is used for drinking,as an ingredient,for processing food,or for washing hands,food,equipment and utensils.
In Nigeria, more than 200,000 are suspected to die each year and about 120,400 deaths of Nigerian children under the age of five occurred in 2008, due to diarrhea and related diseases. Street sold food are riddled with problems and contaminants.
Few vendors know how to manage their waste, hence, the contamination of street foods is often linked to the waste generated by food processing, that is usually dumped near the vending site.
Sometimes vendors throw their wastes-especially liquid wastes into drainages nearby, thereby building homes and habitats for rodents and microorganisms.
A study carried out in Africa showed that a lot of food sellers prepared food like fish, fruit salads, roasted maize and chips in unhygienic conditions, given that garbage and dirty waste were close to the stalls.
Also in India some years ago, a fruit vendor's fruit juice on the street was examined and lots of bacteria was found in it. We can go on to say we use anti-biotics and our immune systems are strong but for how long?
MORE CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS THAT MAY BE PRESENT IN STREET VENDED FOOD
PAHs are Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons.They are chemical compounds containing hydrogen and carbons and they can be found in food sold on the streets, especially smoked food substances and tobacco.
Most PAHs are insoluble in water, however, human exposure varies across the globe and depends on factors such as smoking rates, fuel types in cooking, pollution controls on industrial processes, and vehicles.
Smoke generated from fuels like wood is a large source of PAHs.The burning of coal and biofuels for cooking and heating is a dominant global source of PAH emissions as well, but unfortunately this is one of the cheapest sources of fuel for cooking in developing countries.
In industrial countries, people who smoke tobacco products or consume food substances particularly smoked or grilled meat are exposed to PAHs. PAHs may also be deposited on plant food, especially broad-leafed vegetables, during growth,hence the need for good hygiene when cooking vegetables bought from the street. Emissions from vehicles such as cars and trucks can be a substantial outdoor source of PAHs in the air as well.
PAHs in the body system in large doses have been linked to cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
According to research,people living in Europe, the United States, and China have linked exposure to PAHs, to air pollution or parental occupational exposure, with poor fetal growth, reduced immune function, and poorer development, including lower IQ (source).
Pesticides, chemicals and insecticides which are usually used in the atmosphere can form harmful residues on food substances hawked or sold on the streets. Since most street food are ready to eat and fast, we are quick to consume.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
We can keep up with this awareness, creating more awareness for street vendors and consumers. Our governments must be involved in ensuring the safety of sold and consumed street food.
If you know any vendors around you, encourage them to improve their hygiene and learn more about food safety acts and policies.
In the majority of developing countries,where street food safety policies do not either exist or are poorly enforced,food safety experts or health officials can take up the challenge.
As individuals, we can decide to reduce or abstain from street vended food. We must also become more hygienic with our food preparations too. Remember, it is important to always eat safe.
Authored by @ponmile
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